Cilantro is an aromatic herb that is frequently used in Latin American, Asian, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean cuisine. Packed with flavor and a breeze to grow at home, you’ll be surprised at how fast and easy cilantro grows. You get a continual harvest and if you let the plant bolt and go to seed, you will have your own coriander seeds. Here are some easy tips on how to grow cilantro.
WHEN TO GROW
Cilantro likes the cool nights and sunny days of spring and fall. In zones 8-10, plant it in the fall for a long winter harvest. In colder climates, plant in the spring at least a month before the summer temperatures become too warm. Cilantro leaves can tolerate light frost but will go to seed as soon as it gets too hot. Even a few days reaching 75° F can cause a cilantro plant to bolt.
WHERE TO GROW
Choose a spot in your garden that can be dedicated entirely to herbs or a corner patch where the cilantro will have its own space. Be sure the spot receives full sunlight, though in the south and southwest cilantro will benefit from light shade.
Cilantro can also be grown in 18-inch wide containers with about 10 inches of soil depth.
Cilantro needs fertile soil that drains easily. Enrich with mature compost before planting and test the soil to be sure the pH is 6.2-6.8.
Sow cilantro seeds about ½ inch deep into moist, rich soil. Thin or transplant seedlings to 12 inches apart. Cilantro is best if direct sown, because it does not transplant particularly well once established. If starting cilantro indoors, transplant the seedlings early.
WATERING & CARE
Water occasionally to keep the soil moist, but never soggy.
Cilantro will not need fertilizer if planted in fertile soil. Avoid over-feeding your cilantro. Too much nitrogen will dull the flavor of the herb. Use a fish emulsion after 4 or 5 harvests to keep the soil rich.
Cilantro greens can be harvested throughout the growing season until they flower and go to seed. Cut off 6-12 inch leafy stems near ground level as needed. The seeds can also be harvested to have coriander. Harvest the entire plant as soon as the flowers and leaves turn brown. Otherwise, most of the seeds will be scattered quickly and lost.
Place the harvested plant head in a paper bag to dry. The bag will collect the seeds as they fall off.
TIPS & ADVICE
Vietnamese coriander grows well indoors over winter.
Sow new seeds every 2 or 3 weeks for a continual harvest.
For longer harvest, grow cilantro in pots and clip leaves weekly from a different section of your plant as soon as they reach about 4 inches tall and have a few harvestable leaves. Rotate the pot each time you harvest. This should help to prevent the plant from bolting.